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Elvis: Then and Now
The Beatles, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bryan Ferry, The Rolling Stones and even Eric Clapton all admit that if it weren’t for this man, they wouldn’t be making music today. And they are just a few of the millions of musicians that make music today only because they had Elvis to grow up to.

Elvis died in 1977, and yet he has never been bigger. The fastest-selling album of his career, Elvis 30 # 1 Hits went to # 1 on the US charts and was certified triple platinum within months of its 2002 release. It sold more than 9 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest record of that year. Early 2005 saw the individual reissue of each of his UK singles, with fans building their collection from week-to-week to fill a box that included just one reissued single, All Shook Up. The result ~ in Elvis netted the 999th and 1000th # 1 on the official U.K. singles chart with Jailhouse Rock and One Night, respectively. Hit Story, a brand new 80-track, three CD set of his biggest hits is currently snuggled high up on the charts worldwide.

Elvis Then:
Employed by The Crown Electric Co. and earning $35 a week as a truck driver, an eighteen-year-old saw a sign for the Memphis Recording Service (‘We record anything, anywhere, anytime”) at 706, Union Ave, (also the home of Sun Records) and decided to inquire within. Paying $4 to make a private recording to give his mother a birthday present, he committed his voice for the first time ever to tape. After returning to the studio for a second recording, the studio owner, Sam Phillips was struck by the young maands vocals and subsequently teamed him with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black in 1954.

Within several months, Elvis Presley and his sound became a well talked about sensation. By the end of 1955, Elvis Presley signed a management contract with ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, (whose other clients at the time included country-music stars Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow) and Parker would be Elvis’s manager till the day he died. Despite his growing popularity, his five Sun singles fail to make a dent on the national charts. Sam Phillips believed another of his discoveries, Carl Perkins, was going to be bigger than Elvis, so he sold Elvis’s contract with Sun Records, which included all previously released and recorded material, to the New York-based RCA label for $35,000. The next year, Elvis topped the charts. ,

Elvis: The King of Rock and Roll
By the early 1950s, there was a new kind of sound in the air. The new music style, or rock and roll as it came to be known, was nothing less than evil incarnate to the ears and eyes of a generation who grew up on Sinatra and Perry Como. Perhaps because their parents hated it, the younger generation came to feel it was the voice of theirs. Soon there were stars ~ Bill Halley and His Comets, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Carl Perkins. But it took a shy eighteen-year-old truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi by the name of Elvis Presley to lay the ground rules in a way that would change popular music for all time.

Elvis Now:
Elvis is as much, if not more, of a popular culture icon today as he was when he was alive. Almost three decades after he left the building, Elvis is still everywhere. He sold over 300 million records during his lifetime and close to 700 million more since his death. Classic Elvis tunes have been covered by everyone from Billy Joel to Willie Nelson. He’s been endlessly referenced in album artwork and lyrics, from John Lennon to Bruce Springsteen, Roxy Music to Eminem. As an image alone, Elvis is found everywhere today ~ on stamps to t-shirts to graffiti in Moscow to thousands of websites on the internet.

Elvis is so rich in metaphorical and musical importance for even the biggest rock band in the world today. U2 can hardly stay away from him. The fascination first surfaced on the song Elvis Presley and America on 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire, the first of several tracks to incorporate Elvis’s spirituality in their music. Drummer Larry Mullen even named his son Aaron Elvis. To them and countless others, Elvis truly changed everything ~ sexually, politically and musically. Without him, it’s been rightly said, rock and roll would have been just a footnote in history.


You can read the rest of our feature on Elvis Presley in the December 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.




ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

Madonna
Destination India
Grammy Nominees Special
Eminem
Buddy Guy
Switchfoot
Depeche Mode
Daniel Powter
Taxiride
DJ Speak
Getting Started: The Keyboards
Luke Kenny
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